Annika Pasanen annika.pasanen at helsinki.fi
Tue Oct 30 09:35:58 UTC 2012


I've been discussing these numbers with Janne Saarikivi, but as far as  
I can see, it hasn't affected this list. Main points of my critics:

-It's both impossible and unethic to ignore L2-speakers in such  
communities as most of the Saami groups and Livonians - communities,  
where there are stong revitalization efforts going on. As a researcher  
of revitalization I will not use any data based on this choice. All  
the concept of L1 speakers is simply oldfashioned and false in current  
context of most Uralic languages. Who are we to define, that a person,  
who has been learning the language of her/his own as an adult, would  
not be a speaker? And how could we even find out differences between  
L1 and L2 speakers, when we are facing the facts of endangerment of  
languages and bilingualism?

-If numbers of speakers in this list are remarkably declined compared  
to earlier estimations, there should be strong evidence about  
diminishing speakers. There's no sense to replace conjectured  
estimation with another, although there would be some kind of "common  
feeling", that there are not so many speakers as it has been  
estimated. For example, number of speakers of Inari Sami has  
"traditionally" been 350. I personally have assumed some years ago,  
that it might be more likely 300 - but since I haven't studied the  
situation systematically, I have used the number 350. There are new L2  
speakers emerging to the community all the time - and yes, more than  
old mother tongue speakers are dying - so even if 350 speakers would  
have been too optimistic estimation 5 years ago, it might actually be  
now quite correct.

At least in cases of Livonian, Inari Saami and Skolt Saami, these  
aspects mean a lot, and I really hope that they will have an effect on  
the list.

Best wishes, Annika Pasanen, Inari-Aanaar

Lainaus "Florian Siegl" <florian.siegl at gmx.net>:

> Over the last month, the Department of Finno-Ugric studies in  
> Helsinki has collected and re-evaluated existing statistical data  
> concerning estimated numbers of speakers (!) of individual Uralic  
> languages. As this data is biased, we have decided to make our  
> estimations available on Ura-List in order to gather feedback and  
> suggestions. The overall intention is NOT to present an exact number  
> of speakers (see also principles in the attached file) which would  
> result in a sanctioned list, but to arrive at a reasonably realistic  
> estimation which can be used e. g. in teaching, research or PR work.  
> Although this should not need any further explanation, we wish to  
> exemplify this with two instances which demonstrate the urgency of  
> such an endeavor; the number of Lule Saami speakers has been  
> estimated as roughly 1500-2000, and this number has been around for  
> a longer period. Recent estimations from within the Lule Saami  
> community operate with roughly 700 speakers only ? the resulting  
> discrepancy is 50%. A similar case is to be expected for Forest  
> Nenets. The number of speakers has been reported exceeding 1000 for  
> quite a while now, but may actually not exceed 700 when taking  
> general demographic trends into consideration.
> Further, several languages were once a while reported as extinct (e.  
> g. Livonian, Ume Saami and Pite Saami) though for all languages L1  
> speakers could still be found. Possibly Akkala Saami could also be  
> added to this list.
> As Ura-List, unfortunately, does not stimulate much online  
> discussion, we encourage subscribers to comment this particular  
> matter online. Of course, we also welcome offline comments. These  
> should be sent to florian.siegl at helsinki.fi  
> <mailto:florian.siegl at helsinki.fi>. Please state on which kind of  
> evidence your assumptions rest and if possible provide links to  
> further online resources, own work etc. Please also state if we are  
> allowed to quote your data/assumption publicly as p. c. if this  
> would become necessary.
> A summary will be posted on Ura-List. A more ?official? mode of  
> representation is currently also thought of perhaps resulting in an  
> updated version of the 1992 map /Geographical Distribution of the  
> Uralic Languages/ (then compiled by Gr√ľnthal & Salminen). A suitable  
> online forum is also currently debated on.
> Last, but not least, please forward this message to colleagues and  
> language activists who are not subscribers of Ura-List.
> Florian Siegl
> PhD, researcher
> Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies,
> P.O.Box 24
> FIN-00014 University of Helsinki
> Finland

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